High school student Aubrey Mitchell of Augusta, Kansas, originally enrolled in Project FeederWatch as part of a 4-H project on wildlife. She put up several different types of feeders and water sources and created a brush pile to offer protection for birds visiting the feeders. As part of the project, she learned how to identify Kansas birds and made a poster about the birds that visited her feeders for the county fair.
As a result of her project, Aubrey was invited to represent her state in the wildlife category at the 2005 National 4-H Congress held in Atlanta, Georgia, during the last week of November. After returning from Atlanta, Aubrey wrote of her experience, “I went to workshops on leadership, heard many motivational speakers, and toured Atlanta. Best of all, I got to meet many different people from all of over the United States and parts of the world.”
Aubrey’s 4-H club does not have a project leader in wildlife, so most of her wildlife project was self-determined. She wrote, “Project FeederWatch taught me how to participate in something important and how to get others involved. I have gotten other 4-Hers interested in wildlife, especially birds. When I’m old enough, I will become the project leader for wildlife.”
Habitat and weather
Aubrey lives on a rural two-acre lot with mature trees, shrubs, and grasses, about 1/4 of a mile from the Whitewater River. Most of the land around her is used for farming.
After her first season of FeederWatch, Aubrey wrote, “The best part of Project Feeder Watch was the hours of enjoyment watching the vast variety of birds that came to the feeders. Little did I know the moment I put out the feeders in my backyard that it would cease being mine. I was thrilled to play host to hordes of goldfinches and Red-winged Blackbirds. I quickly planned to participate the next season because I was hooked!”
Temperatures and weather conditions fluctuate in Kansas. One week the high temperature is in the 20’s and the next week it is in the 60’s. They have rain, snow, and ice in the winter. Aubrey watches her feeders from inside the house when it is cold and from one of the family’s two screened in porches when the weather is warm.
A surprise visitor
At the start of Aubrey’s second FeederWatch season, she came home to find a Red-tailed Hawk trapped in her family’s screened in deck. Apparently, the bird had snared a wild rabbit and then flew through the screen door of the deck. Eventually Aubrey and her parents managed to coax the bird outside.
Aubrey enjoys the song of the Tufted Titmice and their feeding style. She wrote, “They perch on one of the highest branches on a tree and size up the situation. Then, the titmice dive bomb the feeders, grab one seed, and fly back up to their lofty branch. They are quick.”